What Happens When Estrogen Levels Are High?

High estrogen levels can be problematic for both women and men. Keep reading to find out why.

RELATED: The Estrogen Family: Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol

In this article:

  1. What Is Estrogen?
  2. When Is Estrogen High?
  3. How Do You Develop High Estrogen?
  4. What Are the Symptoms of High Estrogen in Women?
  5. What Are the Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men?
  6. What Risks Are Associated with High Estrogen?
  7. How Do You Treat High Estrogen?

Everything You Need to Know About High Estrogen in Women and Men

What Is Estrogen?

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone, but men also have it in their bodies. Women naturally have higher levels of estrogen compared to men.

Estrogen plays a crucial role in a woman’s reproductive functioning. It helps regulate menstrual cycles and helps prepare a woman’s body for fertilization.

On the other hand, certain types of estrogen also play a role in the sexual functioning of men. It helps regulate their sex drive, promotes erectile function, and develops their sperm.

There are three types of estrogen:

  • Estradiol – the main form of estrogen
  • Estrone – a minor form of estrogen which the body uses as a back-up when the body is low on estradiol
  • Estriol – a minor form of estrogen which increases when women are pregnant. Women who aren’t pregnant have very low levels of estriol.

A blood test can determine the levels of estrogen in your body. It’s usually measured in picograms per milliliter (pg/ml).

When Is Estrogen High?

The following estradiol levels are considered normal:

  • Female children and adolescents – 350 pg/ml
  • Male children and adolescents – 40 pg/ml
  • Female adults – 15-350 pg/ml
  • Male adults – 10-40 pg/ml
  • Postmenopausal female adults – 9 pg/ml

The following estrone levels are considered normal:

  • Female children and adolescents – 200 pg/ml
  • Male children and adolescents – 60 pg/ml
  • Female adults – 17-200 pg/ml
  • Male adults – 10-60 pg/ml
  • Postmenopausal female adults – 7-40 pg/ml

Anything above these normal ranges is considered high. High estrogen can become problematic when it begins affecting your overall health, sexual development, and sexual function.

How Do You Develop High Estrogen?

It’s natural for hormone levels to vary from time to time. However, when there’s constantly too little or too much of a certain hormone in the body, both men and women may develop a hormonal imbalance.

Different factors can lead to high estrogen levels in your body. Here are a few conditions which can cause high estrogen:

  • The body produces too much estrogen.
  • The body can’t produce enough of other hormones, like progesterone or testosterone, which balance out the effects of estrogen.
  • Certain medications can increase estrogen levels. For example, hormonal birth control or oral contraceptives, hormone replacement medications, certain antibiotics, and herbal supplements may increase estrogen levels.
  • Ovarian tumors can deregulate the production of estrogen. For women, estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries.
  • Liver disease can make it more difficult for the body to process and excrete excess estrogen.
  • Obesity can increase your risk of high estrogen. Excess body fat is linked to increased levels of certain hormones, including estrogen.

When treating high estrogen, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of the imbalance.

RELATED: What Are The Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance?

What Are the Symptoms of High Estrogen in Women?

Women, especially premenopausal women, are usually concerned with an estrogen deficiency. But high estrogen levels can also cause uncomfortable and problematic symptoms.

Here are a few symptoms associated with high estrogen levels in women:

  • Irregular timing and length of periods
  • Heavy bleeding during a period
  • Light spotting during a period
  • More intense premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Fatigue
  • More frequent headaches
  • Bloating
  • Tender or swollen breasts
  • Cold extremities (hands and feet)
  • Sleep issues
  • Hair loss
  • Change or decrease in sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain in hips and waist
  • Fibroids in breast
  • Fibroids in or around the uterus

What are fibroids? These are noncancerous growths which can appear in different parts of the body.

What Are the Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men?

Men experience high estrogen levels differently than women do. Here are a few symptoms men may experience if they have high estrogen levels:

  • Enlargement or swelling of the breast
  • Inability to get or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse
  • Inability to make a fertile woman pregnant
  • Depression

These symptoms can have an impact on men’s relationships, well-being, and self-esteem.

What Risks Are Associated with High Estrogen?

Apart from the symptoms above, high levels of estrogen are associated with the following conditions:

  • Blood clots
  • Thyroid disease
  • Cardiovascular disease (ex: heart attack or stroke)
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

These health conditions are serious and can have long term impact on your health and well-being.

How Do You Prevent High Estrogen?

The first thing you need to do is determine your estrogen levels. This can be done with a simple blood test.

If the results show high estrogen levels, it’s best to determine the root cause of the imbalance. This will help your health care provider determine the best course of treatment.

In the meantime, if you suspect you have high estrogen levels, there are a few things you can do to help keep estrogen at normal levels:

  • Try and maintain a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise.
  • Reconsider certain medications or treatments. If your medication increases estrogen levels, you can try a lower dose or switch to other alternatives.
  • Avoid foods which are high in estrogen, like soy products. Instead, increase the intake of foods which can counteract the effects of estrogen, such as whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, and mushrooms.
  • Add more fiber in your diet to help excrete the excess estrogen in your system. Otherwise, your body ends up reabsorbing the estrogen which stays your digestive tract.

Aside from these changes, some women who are at risk for ovarian or breast cancer also consider oophorectomies. An oophorectomy is a surgery where the ovaries are removed to induce surgical menopause.

Estrogen may be the primary sex hormone for women, but both men and women can suffer from high estrogen levels. High estrogen can bring uncomfortable and troubling symptoms, but you’re not helpless against it.

Health care providers can diagnose your condition and craft a treatment plan to help ease your symptoms. So if you think you’re suffering from high estrogen levels, contact a health care provider today to live your best life.

Are you experiencing any of these high estrogen symptoms? What have you been doing to manage them? Let us know in the comments section below.

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